Pop Culture

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HBO’s Game of Thrones is finally back.  Sansa and Daenerys square up, Samwell Tarly gets devastating news, and Jon Snow finds his truth.  There is lots to get caught up on as the series finale gets underway and Joe Lee recaps the episode with the help of super fan Dan Cohen, reporter and anchor for WREX TV in Rockford, IL. 

This episode contains spoilers.


With the recent positive representation of black actors, producers, and filmmakers at the 2019 Academy Awards, there were several headlines questioning whether #OscarsSoWhite movement is still relevant.  On this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee discusses why the movement is still necessary despite the appearance of positive gains.  Is it a movement or just a moment?  Is Hollywood ready to take more risks with black creatives? 

Joe is joined by studio executive Dana Gills, Director of Production and Development for Lions Gate, and Dr. Charisse L’Pree, Assistant Professor of Communications at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.


  Bruce Wayne is looking pretty darn good for an 80 year old.  Batman has been Gotham's protector for decades, having made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 back in May, 1939.  Today, Batman has been featured in comics, television series, video games, and blockbuster movies and has been portrayed by a number of actors.  Why has this tights-wearing caped crusader endured for so long in American popular culture? 

Joe Lee explores this and more with Seth Everett, broadcast journalist and host of the wildly popular podcast, Hall of Justice, on this episode of Pop Life.

The documentary Leaving Neverland debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and premiered on HBO in March.  The 4 hour 2 part film, produced and directed by British film maker Dan Reed, details the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck who allege that they were sexually abused by pop icon Michael Jackson when they were 7 and 10 year old boys.

Joining Joe on this episode of Pop Life is Dr. Charisse L’Pree, Assistant Professor of Communications at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.  Her work focuses on how media affects the way we think about ourselves and our perceptions of others.  She is also a self-proclaimed Michael Jackson “fangirl”.  The two discuss the documentary, unpack how it impacts our culture, and what it all means for Michael Jackson’s legacy.


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On January 29th, actor Jussie Smollett, known for his role on the FOX show Empire, reported that he was assaulted by two masked men who beat him while using racial and homophobic slurs in Chicago.  After weeks of investigation, the Chicago Police Department has now issued Smollett a felony disorderly conduct charge. 

Joining Joe on this episode of Pop Life is Bob Thompson, Director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, and Leslie Streeter, entertainment writer for the Palm Beach Post out of West Palm Beach, FL to help make sense of it all.


Not too long ago The Oscars was frowned upon for it's lack of diversity. With that in mind this years nominees look to reflect the response from Hollywood. WAER's Joe Lee is joined by  graduate student Alazia Williams and Lisa Respers France from CNN to discuss some of the "firsts" represented at this years award show.

"Black Panther", Spike Lee, and more, they'll discuss it all on this special Oscars preview episode of Pop Life.


2018 was a year filled with high profile celebrities getting themselves into hot water. From Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey to Roseanne Barr and Kevin Hart, we certainly had a lot to talk about. And, even though 2019 is still young, it looks like we are in for more of the same.

This week on Pop Life, Joe Lee is joined by Leslie Gray Streeter from the Palm Beach Post to discuss the power of documentary storytelling.  The explosive documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" demonstrates how the genre can bring new life to an old scandal.  R. Kelly's career has been plagued with rumors of abuse, pedophilia, and predatory behavior toward women. Now, survivors are stepping forward to detail new allegations about his physical, mental, and sexual abuse thanks to the 6 part Lifetime television special produced by Dream Hampton.


If we've learned anything from films such as Terminator or Star Trek, it's that artificial intelligence is going be a part of our future. But even with exposure to those science fiction films, I'm not sure we've thought too much about how AI might work its way into the actual content we consume.  

This week on Pop Life , Joe Lee is joined by Doug Clark- Global Watson and Cloud Platform Soluntions leader for IBM. They'll chat about artificial intelligence's ability to write movie scripts and how it played a role in latest World Cup.


Flickr- Gage Skidmore

The iconic Stan Lee passed away earlier this month after a lifetime of creating classially well known characters. His work ranges from the likes of Iron Man and Professor X to  The Fantastic Four and Luke Cage.

This week kicks off Season 2 of Pop Life as Joe Lee welcomes Bob Thompson to discuss the body of work that Stan Lee created and how it's become a staple of entertainment. 

Plus the guys recommend their picks for shows to binge watch in this week's edition of 'Invitation to Binge'. 

Just a few months ago the reboot of the popular television show Roseanne was the talk of the town. It was commended for its wit and humor, while addressing the currently political climate.  Fast forward to today and it is still the talk of the town but this time due to its cancellation. 

This week on Pop Life Joe Lee is joined by Bob Thompson to discuss the fallout from the controversial tweet from actress Roseanne Barr

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